Volunteer Laurie Naumann has participated in many projects over the years. Recently he returned to the Scottish island of Fair Isle where he got the chance to see how the island had developed and benefited from his volunteer work back in 1965. Here he blogs about his memories and revisiting Fair Isle.

Fair Isle is probably two-thirds sheep! There is one post office with a few amenities and an observatory that’s quite fantastic. Our job was to construct ditches for sheep dip as well as other manual tasks to help the farmers out.

Many of the younger islanders at the time would leave to find work elsewhere, so our work was critical in keeping the farm running and ensuring the community stayed on the island. When I recently returned I could see the ditches we dug still being used. It really does amaze me to think that they got 40 years of continuous use out of our work.

Through volunteering, I developed an interest in social services and work. This has been something that has stayed with my through my life and that I have passed on to my 8 children and 9 grandchildren. It also helped to develop a good work ethic as our work was demanding and very physical.

I’ve participated in other voluntary projects since then, Sweden and Lincolnshire being the most recent. Two of my sons are also active volunteers and I am also on the board of IVS.

Voluntary work is critical to the way that the world operates. Volunteers have an enormous gain in understanding for others and an appreciation for them also. I have friends that have retired and yet have spent years overseas volunteering and remaining active and useful for others. The world would be a much worse place without genuine volunteering.

It’s also much easier for people now. They receive a lot of support and are able to travel all over the world to the places that they are needed.

Thank you so much for your time and for providing these fantastic pictures!